I’m not a wedding expert and I’m not a marriage expert. I’m also not a wedding planner and needed plenty of help for my wedding almost a year ago.
Lately though, I’ve been seeing a lot of my friends struggle to plan their big over the top weddings with dresses costing half a years salary. And it’s made me realize…
It’s okay to go small. We had about 30 people at our wedding. We saved most of our budget for the reception. I got a beautiful bridesmaids’ dress for $300 that made me feel just as special as the girl next to me trying on the $10,000 ball gown wedding dress.
My Matron of Honor who was married and had helped plan a few weddings other than her own and is a master at organization did most of the planning for the wedding.
I bought $12 lace shoes to go with my dress and they matched perfectly, flats of course because I am not all that coordinated and my dress was only knee length. I went to Kato to buy my jewelry and managed to buy mine, my Matron and Honor’s, and my Maid of Honor’s all at the same time for less than $50 and I’m allergic to metal, so I thought that was a steal and I did buy earring for me as well as a choker. I spent $6 on the ribbon for my waist.
My Matron, always the bargain shopper, found identical dresses in burgundy in way different sizes on Amazon and so my bridal party bought their own Matron and Maid dresses because I think they were only $40 each.
Between the three of us we found 3 similar pairs of black flats to go with the dresses that we already own, luckily we are all about the same shoe sizes. I spent $5 on white tights that I ruined the day of the wedding, but I had a back up set of black tights so I wore black tights with my Ivory colored dress and burgundy ribbon sash. I went to Claire’s for hair accessories. I managed to find white and burgundy hair clips for me, the Maid, and the Matron for less than $30.
Hubby requested not to wear a suit and tie, but I got him and the groomsmen in ties that matched my sash. Since we wanted them all in grey shirts, black slacks, and burgundy ties, we bought those outfits or rather hubby did.
Our venue was a gym/car shop. My Matron has an outbuilding that doubles as a home gym and on rare occasions a car shop.
Hubby and I are both members of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in our town so we got the venue for the reception free. This meant all the money we saved on outfits, decor, my Matron had extra decor, wedding venue spots, and the reception hall went into food.
This was our biggest expense. Despite reading that it was tacky to go with cupcakes that is exactly what we went with. My brother-in-law fixed pulled pork and a friend who also does competition barbecuing pitched in on sides and setting everything up for us.
We expected 150 people at the reception and when the bartenders did a count, we had over 250. We did not do an open bar, drinks at private clubs are cheap and a lot of our friends are darters, so I wasn’t paying that tab at the end of the night.
We rented a shuttle bus but got a discount.
we went small for our wedding. immediate family, some very dear friends of ours, very dear friends, and went big for the reception where extended family, friends, their friends, and practically everyone and their mother showed up.
We had an amatuer photographer from my husband’s family do the pictures and they turned out great. I only had one complaint, my MIL is in more pictures than me, but even that isn’t a major deal I don’t like to have my picture taken.
Also this allowed us to have Lola at the wedding.
Every girl dreams of a fairy tale wedding, but reality doesn’t normally allow for fairy tales. As pleased as I was with our wedding, I had to break up a girl fight. The nephew I am closest to left early so his girlfriend wouldn’t get too drunk and puke in his car and everywhere else for that matter. One of our good friends who plays darts didn’t get into our dart blind draw because he intentionally left his darts at his hotel because he didn’t think he was good enough. I didn’t get to have my first dance with my husband or my father because it was so crowded and we needed so many tables and chairs, we were over occupancy level I think and that was well before darts.
But we had novices that had never thrown a dart there that night, one I think took first place and semi-professionals. Yes we had darts at our reception… The important part was that everyone we wanted at the wedding came even though there were only about 40 of them, maybe 30 and we made up for it at the reception by having everyone else there.
Fairy tale weddings exist in books. Every bride can say her wedding day was perfect, but the truth is, it probably wasn’t. Life happens. Somehow we managed to invite two girls who hated each other and we didn’t even know they knew each other.
Since my wedding I’ve had friends say to me I wish I had done it more like you. Put more effort into the reception than the wedding and all the wedding trimmings because the wedding is just one great big bundle of nerves… The reception is where the fun really happens.
Even after 8 years together I was nervous and my husband looked like he might run away at any second… probably should have. Oh and my minister cost me a meal at a restaurant because she was a friend who happened to be legal to marry people – Either the Church of the Walking Dude or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I don’t remember which now, but it worked out and seriously… The reception was where the magic happened. Even without my dances. Even with my nephew leaving early, I got to mingle because it was rather informal reception and I spent the night talking to friends I had or hadn’t seen in ages.
My advice, stop stressing about the wedding, weddings are boring and formal and stiff and rather awful. Go small on the wedding and use your budget for the fun stuff, the reception and honeymoon. Because sadly gals if you think your wedding is going to live up to the fairy tale, you’re wrong. The bigger the wedding the more shit can go wrong. At least let it go wrong at the reception so you aren’t pulling your guests off each other in the pews and I have been to a wedding where a brawl broke out as the vows got started.
I have only been to one wedding where nothing went wrong and that is debatable, but it was all small stuff. The bride was freaking out because small stuff compounds. Each new problem looks much bigger than it really is until you end up a wreck in your dressing room trying not to smear mascara on the $1,500 dress you bought.